GREECE: Bracing for austerity protest
The conservative-led coalition detailed a four-year package of austerity measures late Monday, facing down protests by unions and dissent from its left-wing government partners. The bill, to be voted on in parliament late Wednesday, imposes further wage and benefit cuts on Greeks who are heading into a sixth year of recession. Unions called a 48-hour general strike starting Tuesday in anticipation of the measures. Late Monday police cordoned off streets around government buildings to prepare for potentially violent protests.
SOUTH KOREA: An overture to the North
Presidential nominee Park Geun-hye of the ruling New Frontier Party said Monday she wants to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to improve relations if she wins election Dec. 19. Park, whose mother was killed in 1974 during a North Korean assassination attempt on her father when he led South Korea, pledged to reverse outgoing President Lee Myung-bak's hard-line stance against Kim's regime. Park, 60, is seeking to become the first female leader of Asia's fourth-largest economy. She is outpolling two challengers in her bid to overcome Lee's plummeting approval ratings. Park called for installing offices in Seoul and Pyongyang to improve communication.
Hordes of mainland high rollers flooding into Macau have turned the city into an Asian casino boomtown, but they're also posing a challenge for China's next generation of leaders. Macau's casino industry has mushroomed after its government eased restrictions, helping to supercharge the economy, creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and making vast fortunes for a few U.S. gambling kingpins. China holds a once-a-decade Communist Party congress starting Thursday that will usher in new leaders who might already be uneasy about Chinese citizens spiriting wealth outside the mainland to Macau in violation of capital controls, as well as the huge profits being made there by U.S. casino companies.